By Olivia Hanna
A former American President once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Though Roosevelt was not alive to experience social media, I’m sure he would argue that Facebook, Instagram and other platforms are thieves of joy.
The relationship I have with social media is interesting, and I’m sure I’m not alone. On one hand I love the scrolling: checking in on friends, reading the latest news, seeing beautiful places and inspiring artwork; but on the other hand these beautiful things make me feel a little less happy about who I am.
It’s not that I’m not a confident person, I am, but like many people I have my insecurities and a lot of people who I follow possess many of the qualities that I want to have and are the antithesis of the things I don’t like about myself. There are people my age, 22, who have beautiful homes, disposable incomes, tiny waistlines, and enviable wardrobes. It’s hard not to let these things be the thief of my joy.
Even though I hate constantly comparing myself to the women I see on my tiny iPhone screen, I continue to subject myself to it. I scroll further and further into my Instagram feed, further and further into my insecurities. But why? I’m not so sure.
Is it to motivate myself to achieve the things they have? Is it to superficially surround myself with the things I want, but don’t have? Is to bring me a brief glimpse of joy before the feelings of inadequacy trickle in?
I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer, but I can ask this: is feeling bad about myself worth the ‘joy’ I get from scrolling through carefully curated posts? Definitely not.
But that is the trouble with social media, the careful curation of everything we outsiders have access to. The people on the other side of the screen are showing us a glimpse into their lives, not the full picture. And that glimpse is something that they have complete control over. We don’t get to see their insecurities unless they share them. We don’t always see when they’re upset, or fighting with their significant other, or grieving a loss, or feeling unworthy. And the thing is, we all know this because we’re all guilty of doing the same thing.
We filter our selfies, FaceTune our teeth to be whiter, add a cheery caption and a bunch of emojis. No one is completely candid, nor should we be, but it’s important to remember that there’s an entire world beyond the screen.
I don’t know how I’m going to stop comparing myself to others, but Roosevelt’s quote is a step forward. Comparison really is stealing my joy, and I deserve to be joyful. We all deserve to be joyful and to celebrate what makes us special. It’s okay to appreciate others in the social media stratosphere, but never let it infringe on what makes you happy, and what makes you unique.